Has Sturgeon EVER looked so out of touch?
GLIDING serenely through the streets of the capital city, a government limousine is ferrying the First Minister to her latest Festival gig.
Nicola Sturgeon has never had to worry about navigating pothole-ridden roads, as she can’t drive, so leaves that task to her chauffeurs.
Nor does she bother with trains, which is just as well given they rarely seem to run these days, though of course she might consider a stroll.
After all, she’s based in the middle of Edinburgh and is keen to promote a greener way of life — but the air-conditioned sanctuary of the limo is tough to beat.
As she made her way to her latest event last night — a chat with actor and independence supporter Brian Cox — her journey would have been marred by mountains of stinking rubbish.
Her own street was free of this festering blight — as the rubbish at Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence, is picked up by a private contractor, while the rest of the city drowns in mouldering waste.
The sight of a politician earning more than £160,000 a year (no need to sweat about those energy bills) being chauffeured through these dystopian scenes is a fitting visual metaphor for the Sturgeon regime, almost a decade after her appointment.
Miss Sturgeon has bought her own hype and now occupies a rarefied realm light years away from the everyday concerns of her subjects — such as trying to avoid vermin infestation in homes crammed with uncollected rubbish.
Like a medieval monarch being whisked past the peasants, she is far beyond these pedestrian preoccupations, preferring to consult with favoured courtiers such as the fawning Cox and other assorted sycophants.
When she’s not being escorted past piles of burst bin-bags, turning Scotland’s capital into a public health hazard and an object of international ridicule, Miss Sturgeon is dreaming up plans for another tax hike, or the next bout of constitutional warfare.
Perhaps in the comfort of that limo, she and her advisers came up with the ploy to hit commuters with a workplace parking levy, at the same time as they, and indeed everyone else, struggle to stay solvent amid a sustained assault on their bank balances.
And it’s not as if Miss Sturgeon needs to worry about fuel costs or road tax either, as she nears the home stretch of her gruelling summer schedule as one of Scotland’s foremost, or certainly most ubiquitous, raconteurs.
Despite her exalted status, it comes as no real surprise that she seems to have lost enthusiasm for the job, or is at least openly mulling over the possibility that her reign might not be everlasting.
Let’s hope her farewell tour, if that’s what we are witnessing, isn’t like Frank Sinatra’s — he announced he was quitting in 1971 then went on to perform at another thousand concerts.
Miss Sturgeon is an old trouper, trotting out the same old hits after a long career — contemplating the end as she re-lives some of her greatest moments in cosy chats with Hollywood stars, not that there are too many of those moments to pick from.
Luckily for her, most of the interviewers are interested only in questions of the soft-ball variety, though now and again there’s a mildly revelatory reply.
In one of her Fringe turns, Miss Sturgeon was asked about her predecessor, and predictably said she had no intention of having anything more to do with him.
Yet, for all of his faults, and there was no shortage of them, it’s unlikely that Alex Salmond would have allowed Edinburgh, and now other parts of Scotland, to become one large rubbish dump.
He was always aware that a government which failed on the basics could never be trusted to guide the nation through inevitably stormy waters to the supposedly safe harbour of independence.
That’s why, as leader of the Alba Party, he has become one of Miss Sturgeon’s staunchest critics, particularly on her madcap Supreme Court referendum stunt, which he sees a huge blunder.
To Mr Salmond and other separatists, it’s a barmy gamble as everyone, probably including Miss Sturgeon, knows it’s destined to fail — and the road to freedom will be revealed as a cul-de-sac.
Erstwhile independence zealots who were once in the inner sanctum of the Nationalist hierarchs also seem to have conceded defeat and are talking about the need to play a longer game, and scale down expectations.
Devo-max, or something short of full-fat independence, should be the new plan, they counsel, while there is a growing consensus among SNP strategists that the idea of a referendum in the autumn of next year is little more than a charade.
All of which is a red rag for the increasingly ill-tempered hoardes of trolls who think calling people ‘Quislings’ in heated online exchanges will bring them closer to their goal.
Anyone brave or foolish enough to venture into these virtual debating spaces (or at least that’s what they were supposed to be) will have noticed a surge in general nastiness — a giant hornets’ nest has been knocked over.
Hatred has clouded the judgment of the most ardent ‘Yessers’, supposing they had any in the first place, and now some senior SNP figures are speaking out to condemn their behaviour — recognising, belatedly, that it might not be a vote-winner.
The real adversaries for these intellectual heavyweights who like to spread abuse and bile, and unpleasant memes, aren’t really the loathed Quislings, but Miss Sturgeon and her cohorts — who promised so much to their acolytes then failed to deliver.
Now a lot of them are in pre-emptive mourning for their cause, and it must rub salt into their wounds to see Miss Sturgeon swanning around the filthy thoroughfares of the city they hoped would be the hub of a bold new socialist Utopia.
What they privately made of Miss Sturgeon jetting off to Denmark to open a new Scottish ‘embassy’ is anyone’s guess, but it’s hard to imagine many separatists, either in Miss Sturgeon’s immediate circle or beyond, genuinely believe that the timing of her visit was well-judged.
It reinforced the image of an out-of-touch First Minister intent on empire-building, leaving behind a country mired in waste, bitterly divided by her relentless agitation on the constitution, and saddled with second or third-rate public services.
If you want an indication of the SNP’s progressive values, look at the refugee ferry at Leith, or the homeless living among the litter, or the wretched drug addicts dying in greater numbers than anywhere else in Europe.
But while you’re at it, you might catch sight of a government limo rolling past — and its backseat passenger, gazing out at an ocean of overflowing bins, will be a self-promoting politician who is long past caring.
- This column appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on August 30, 2022.
- Follow me on Twitter: @GrahamGGrant